Niall’s virtual diary archives – Sunday 14th January 2018

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Sunday 14th January 2018: 4.02am. My father was telling me at my 40th birthday party tonight how he always felt a sense of foreboding at Maynooth Seminary where I currently live Sunday to Friday. I personally have found no such thing, it seems to me a good old fashioned academic atmosphere reminiscent of academia before it became targets driven. I rather like the ambience actually, it reminds me of a less hectic St. Andrews. So I thought I'd share one of the many stories of the devil's works at Maynooth over the centuries, there are lots and lots of them. Enjoy!

"If you visit Maynooth today, you might come across an old building on the campus called Rhetoric House. You might notice that one of the windows on the top floor is boarded-up and you might wonder why. If you ask someone, they will tell you this is The Ghost Room.

Many years ago, students who went to Maynooth would live on the top floor of the building. There was one young man who was assigned to sleep in Room No.2. One day, when he didn’t show up for lectures, his friends went looking for him. They found his dead body lying in a pool of blood on the floor of Room No.2 with his throat slit from ear to ear. Clutched in his hand was a bloody razor and it appeared that he had taken his own life.

Ireland was a Catholic country and, at the time, suicide was seen as a terrible sin. The matter was hushed up by the college and the student was buried in an unconsecrated part of the college cemetery, away from the other graves.

For the rest of the year, the room lay vacant, but when the next year began, it was assigned to another young man. To the shock and horror of everyone involved, this young man was also found dead under the exact same circumstances. He had slashed his own neck with a razor.

The college authorities were horrified to have two suicides on their hands. The fact that they both happened in the same room was even more unsettling. However, they decided to hush it up again and the student was quietly buried and everyone tried to forget what had happened.

Despite all of these foreboding events, the very next year, the college assigned another young man to live in Room No.2. One morning, after mass, the student jumped out of the window of his room and landed on the ground outside Rhetoric House. He had broken most of the bones in his body, but he was still alive. In his hand, he was clutching a razor. When they brought him to hospital, the student had a terrifying tale to tell.

While he was in his room that morning, he happened to glance in the mirror and was horrified to see a demonic face staring back at him. Suddenly, he was overcome by a powerful urge to kill himself. Unable to control himself, he grabbed a razor and was about to slit his own throat. Struggling against the demonic force, he managed to throw himself out the window and this is what saved his life.

After hearing the young man’s story, the college authorities decided to investigate. They asked one of the priests to stay the night in the haunted room. In the morning, they found him curled up in a ball, gibbering and shrieking like a maniac. His hair had turned completely white and he refused to say a word about his harrowing experience.

The college president decided that enough was enough and nobody else must ever be allowed to spend the night in Room no.2. He immediately ordered that room was to be turned into an oratory. The window was boarded up, the front wall was knocked down and the door was removed. A shrine to St. Joseph, the patron saint of Peaceful Death, was placed on an altar at the back of the room.

If you go there today, they say you can still see bloodstains on the wooden floor. Nobody is ever allowed to bring a mirror into the room. The graves of the dead students still stand in the cemetery and their names are carved on a bronze plaque in the college as a grim reminder of the horrific events that occurred there."

Said room today is the waiting room for the History department. It retains its shrine and boarded up windows, just in case. I have yet to determine if any mirrors are permitted inside. There are lots more stories like the above about Maynooth Seminary, similarly heavily enhanced from the facts on the ground at the time (for example, in reality, about 18 years separated the students, and there was two not three of them. No priest went white from staying a night there, though the priest so assigned to investigate the room did recommend to the board to stop putting students into that room, which they did by official committee resolution which appears on the minutes. All this happened early to mid 19th century, at a time when there were particularly large number of boys forcibly sent to Maynooth. Many committed suicide, with clear spikes related to numbers attending, who were packed into any available space. Nowadays we'd call it overcrowding, and the no doubt abuse and hazing and bullying which went on to people evicted from their families against their will. No devil's works needed, methinks)

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